You’re finally going to do it. You are a born again believer in the benefits of business and strategic planning. To prepare you for the plunge here’s some rules of the road to guide you through the process.
The planning process can be exhilarating, frustrating, enlightening, demanding and a host of other descriptive adjectives. Hopefully you’ll find a nugget or two in these do’s and don’ts that will keep the emphasis on the positives of your unique organizational growth experience. Carpe Diem!
“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.“-Dwight D. Eisenhower
We all need good information to monitor and manage our organizations. We need timely, efficient and effective management information to drive the decision-making process. To meet these needs, managers should be aware of the available criteria for a proper evaluation.
“You can not feed the hungry on statistics.“-Wilfred Laurier
The following 14 evaluative criteria are offered as a frame of reference for the planning, developing and monitoring of organizational information needs.
It is important to note that proper use of the criteria will involve the assessment of qualitative as well as quantifiable attributes and will require dealing in the unfamiliar and uncomfortable qualitative arena. Also, since the criteria will not generally carry equal weight, management will need an adequate grasp of the critical criteria of its own organization. Use of the evaluative criteria should, however, provide a framework for “relative ranking” of competing data requests and thus allow for a rational allocation of available organizational resources. The evaluation job will still be difficult, but a systematic approach should increase the likelihood that all the “bases” will be covered.
WHAT CRITERIA TO LOOK FOR: 14 TO BENCHMARK AGAINST (more…)
Technology and alternate ways of doing things are always in a state of flux. Whether it’s outsourcing some of your operations or looking at techniques that aid your decision process, it’s important to keep emerging tools and practices on your radar screen.
One example is the evolving nature of financial planning and analysis software that transcends beyond traditional spreadsheet tools. Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball to aid your business decision process? Would you use such a tool if it was available? With operations becoming more and more complex, having the ability to anticipate, analyze and assess alternate strategies BEFORE committing valuable time and resources is becoming vital.
“Anyone who says businessmen deal in facts, not fiction, has never read old five-year projections.“-Malcolm Forbes
Does your current financial forecasting model provide answers to these SEVEN TYPICAL INQUIRIES? (more…)
Do you remember the challenge, the fear, and the thrill of learning to ride your bike as a child? Do you remember how proud you felt when you finally got the upper hand on gravity? Didn’t you feel like standing on your handle bars and screaming “I’m King of the World!” You had acquired the “art of balance” to keep your peddling in a mostly forward, albeit erratic, direction. Life was grand.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you need to keep moving.“-Albert Einstein
Well, balance remains a big part of our lives. It just takes on different forms when we grow up. I emphasize the art of balance since feeling might be more relevant than logic in determining the current state of balance in our lives. Although it’s a personal process and a private journey, here are a few questions to kick-start your assessment:
First, what does your gut tell you? Are the various components of your life in balance? Do you work to live or live to work? Are you becoming multi-dimensional or one-dimensional?
Music & Arts: “Act Locally” Benefit Concert
By Nick Corsi
“Act Locally” Poster click to enlarge
FINALLY – SOME OUTDOOR MUSIC!
This past Thursday at the University of Pittsburgh, our Habitat for Humanity Chapter put on a Benefit Concert. As a University chapter, we have a long term goal of eventually sponsoring the entire cost of a Habitat home. This goal will see its fruition in years to come, but the fund raising is ongoing and provides a slow but steady stream of income to the account. Each year our Benefit Concert provides for this goal and also acts as a capstone event for the year.
Do you tend to see what you’ve always seen? Do your past experiences prevent you from seeing things from a fresh perspective?
Beware: limited perceptions can create some powerful mind traps. They become subtle tendencies in the way we view the world and can impede our ability to find creative solutions to problems and opportunities. Let me share a few related stories from Robert Pirsig the author of the philosophical masterpiecesZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Lila.
“For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses.” -Robert Pirsig
“I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.” Does this describe your organization and how it deals with change? One could make a pretty compelling argument that General Motors suffered from this type of malaise for decades. Whether it is too little or too late for GM is certainly up for debate. But you have to respect their recent proactive course of action. The former giant is now in the role of the underdog but at least they are doing something. Commitment and execution are excellent attributes to embrace.
“Indecision may or may not be my problem.” -Jimmy Buffett
So far we have talked about planning committees, music selections and event strategy…all that is left is to make it happen. The final installment of Music Festival planning focuses on some of the logistical issues that are faced when planning and implementing a music festival.
Does your score keeping drive desired performance? Or does it produce individual and group behavior that conflicts with your primary goals and objectives? Finding the right metrics is not always an easy task. Be aware of the pitfalls that can happen if they are not the right ones.
People can and do change their behavior when they are measured, but it’s not always in the desired direction. Let me share with you a few related stories I’ve heard over the years:
“Tell me how you’ll measure me and I’ll tell you how I’ll behave.” -Famed management guru Eli Goldratt
A few years ago I remember watching the on again, off again, on again, launch status of the space shuttle Discovery over the July 4th holiday. Having grown up in the 60’s I still marvel at each launch and think of the millions of events that take place with each flight.
In recent years it seems NASA has been dealing with an increasingly skeptical public and vocal policy opponents who want to severely limit or eliminate NASA’s future projects.
Maybe I’m in the minority but I’m nostalgic for the excitement, optimism, and commitment that President Kennedy triggered in America in 1961 when he challenged us to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. What a vision and what a mission! And what an exhilarating time for every citizen of the country to witness and enjoy the patriotic pride of the remarkable progress towards the achievement of that lofty goal in July 1969.
“When you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.” -Leo Burnett
music & arts: Entry 1 of 3 in Festival Event Planning
One of Tammy’s Successful Events Click to see the Erie Art Museums Event Page
WITH WARM WEATHER COMES SWEET SOUNDS
Believe it or not, the summer is actually coming, and nice weather means one thing for music…outdoor concerts! But these concerts don’t just grow out of fields and shutdown streets, they grow from the fertile soils of hard work, teamwork and planning.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of Erie, PA’s premiere event planners, Tammy Roche, Director of Marketing and Development at the Erie Art Museum. Each year the Art Museum puts on a fantastic Blues and Jazz Festival at Frontier Park in Erie, PA. Tammy plans the whole thing and has been nothing but successful. Here are her insights into outdoor festival event planning.
Does your score keeping track useful metrics? Or does it produce data that no one really uses? Finding the right metrics is not always an easy task. A good place to start is to challenge what you are currently producing. Who gets it? Do they use it? Is it what they need?
Times do change! What might have been helpful in 1975 might no longer does the trick. Let me share with you a story about a new plant manager we’ll call Tom who was assigned to turn around a troubled manufacturing facility several decades ago.
“We are glutted with data and yet there is a shortage of wisdom”- Michael Toms
Even before this stage of production…A LOT needs to happen. click to enlarge
CONCERTS: MORE THAN THE MUSIC
Have you ever gone to a concert or festival with ONLY music? You may think yes, but if music was all that you noticed, it is because some event coordinator really did his or her job. The performers on stage are not the only ones at work behind the success of an event, many more forces are at work.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: SOME GOOD & SOME NOT SO GOOD
It is the nature of human decision making that no matter what course of considered action, there generally are some resulting unintended (and generally unforeseen) consequences. You don’t have to search to far for many examples that permeate our society.
For instance who could have foreseen the chain of events a few years ago from Don Imus making his insensitive remarks on the air…………. to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine being badly injured in a car crash while on the way to hear Mr. Imus apologize to the Rutgers Women’s basketball team?
“You cannot always predict the results of purposeful action. Life is frequently too complicated and unpredictable, the universe too random, to bend to the will of any individual or group of individuals.”- Steven Gillion
King Arthur had his Knights of the Round Table. Shouldn’t you have a similar team of sage advisors? Keep in mind that even Tiger Woods has a coach.
Most business owners have an aversion towards a formal board of directors and in today’s litigious society, formal board members are harder to entice. But there is an attractive alternative. It’s called an Advisory Board. The informality and flexibility give it it’s power. Here are some suggestions to consider in the formation and continuance of such a group.
Teamwork is essential. It allows you to blame someone else. – Finagle’s Eighth Rule
I love stories when big risks garner big rewards. They brighten the spirit, inspire others and dramatize the “possibilities” of life. Some stories like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak creating Apple in their garage are dramatic and impact society in significant ways. Others may be less significant but are still fun to share.
I am blessed with some colorful friends and fraternity brothers. One of them is Larry whom I’ll soon be sailing with in St. Lucia along with three other mighty sailing men. Besides being the single best story teller I’ve ever met, Larry lives life large and has an easy going philosophy of life.
Here’s a short tale that will give you some idea why he’s simply a joy to be around. If you like this one, don’t worry there are more.
You define the moment or the moment defines you. – Kevin Costner in Tin Cup
How does your management style impact the success of your organization? Is it beneficial or does it hinder performance? Do you realize how significant your management style is to your image, culture and overall achievement?
These are powerful questions that require an honest assessment, some time to reflect, a focused insight on the implications and consideration for possible change.
“The secret of successful managing is to keep the five guys who hate you away from the five guys who haven’t made up their minds.” -Casey Stengel
We all have habits. Some good and some not so good. It’s the same for our organizations. Some foster organizational progress and some detract from it. Are the ingrained habits at your organization working to benefit the company or are they aiding and abetting the competition?
Old habits die hard. That’s why they are called habits. But when habits prevent fresh thinking, become out of date routine patterns, or become mindless repetition, habits can become disruptive.
Are you running your business or is your business running you? If you feel it’s time to regain control, you might want to review this list of the seven interwoven characteristics of superior organizations. Consider working these into your business or organizational plans for 2009.
Living your life in the Law of Attraction means such an easy and abundant flow of experiences. We know that life is made up of constant changes always requiring us to make decisions… some are easy, some challenging -and some, well, only someone in the same situation can fully appreciate them … for most women, the idea of finding a new hairdresser rates right up there with the most difficult!